Realtors: City needs industry in Rivercane

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The realtors responsible for marketing the Rivercane development told members of the Atmore Industrial Development Board that it will likely need to attract industrial customers in order to further grow the development.

Mark Dauber, a sales associate with John Stanley & Associates Commercial Real Estate of Montgomery, said that many restaurant companies will not come to Atmore because it does not have enough residents.

“As an example, we’re not anywhere close to what IHOP or Cracker Barrel requires,” he said. “I think we’re getting close to saturating the fast food market for this area.”

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Dauber said that Atmore will likely need to increase its number of “rooftops,” or residents, and bringing a major industry to the Rivercane development could help achieve that goal.

Tim Herrington, with Herrington and Associates, expressed the same concern. He said that Atmore’s criteria would not even be enough to attract even McDonald’s today.

“We’re lucky they came here when they did, because they could not come to this market today,” he said. “Their criteria have changed significantly.”

Board member Bob Jones said he was concerned that Atmore might never qualify in the minds of corporate recruiters, because the city population center is five miles from Rivercane itself.

“In rural communities, it seems like drive time should be more important than distance,” Jones said. “Three miles on Airport Road (in Mobile) is different from three miles on Highway 21.”

Jones also said he was unsure a new industrial customer in Rivercane would make a large difference, because many of those employees might choose to commute from other cities.

In other business, the board:

• Heard an update from Herrington on a planned five-unit strip center in Rivercane. Herrington said that three clients are already lined up, and now it is just a matter of finding a company willing to build it.

Dauber said that one company expressed an interest, but was concerned the cost of the land might be too high. Board chairman Richard Maxwell told Dauber to have the company “bring an offer,” and perhaps a better land price could be negotiated.

• Maxwell said that the new Fairfield Inn & Suites has an expected opening date of sometime in June.